Thomas Edward Burleson Jr. died Sept. 19, 2011, at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He was born Nov. 20, 1935, to Thomas Edward Burleson Sr. and Annie Laura Whipple Burleson in Waxahachie.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a daughter, Lori Burleson Johnson.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Nan Epton Burleson; and children: Gregory Burleson and wife, Carol, Timothy Burleson and wife, Tami, of Waxahachie, Ame Burleson Solomon and husband, John, of Los Angeles, Calif., and son-in-law, Lee Johnson of Ennis. Also surviving are his sister, Ann Bond, of Dallas, and her sons, Rick, Gary and Andy Bond; sister-in-law, Jan Seale and husband, Dr. Carl Seale; grandchildren, April, Annie, Kyla and Sutton Burleson, Sarah Solomon, Katherine Johnson, and Brian Johnson and wife, Vicky; nephews, Ansen, Erren and Averil Seale; and a great-grandson, Cameron Cole.
Mr. Burleson received a bachelor’s of business administration degree from North Texas University. Upon graduation he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed first in Amarillo and then near Washington, D.C. at Andrews Air Force Base, where he was promoted to captain and became the chief refueling officer for the base. Among his duties there was refueling the presidential aircrafts.
In 1962, he was honorably discharged from military service and returned to Waxahachie to join the family firm of T.W. Burleson and Son Inc., where he worked 49 years as the third generation in his family to produce and pack honey. During that time, he served as president of the National Honey Packers & Dealers and president of the American Honey Institute. As CEO of Burleson’s Honey, Mr. Burleson led the industry by pioneering plastic, non-drip containers for honey.
Mr. Burleson’s civic activities covered a wide range of endeavors. He served as president and secretary of the Waxahachie Independent School District Board and president and secretary of the Waxahachie Lions Club. A faithful member of the First Baptist Church, among his many duties through the years he served as chairman of the deacons, chairman of the properties committee, and supervisor of the construction of the Children’s Building. A landmark event in his life occurred in 1980 when he was awarded the Citizens for Progress Outstanding Citizens Award by the African American community in Waxahachie. He was the first caucasian to receive such an honor.
Other involvements include participation in Historic Waxahachie Inc. and the Classic Car Club. Mr. Burleson was active in Boy Scouts and received the Order of the Arrow Award.
Noted for his high energy and indomitable spirit, he thoroughly loved life, enjoying hunting, fishing, camping, cooking, mountains of New Mexico and collecting antiques, including vintage cars. He was a generous person in both spirit and means, with a great sense of humor, which served him well as an excellent storyteller, host and friend. In later years, his greatest pleasure was his grandchildren. He truly loved his entire family.
Services to celebrate his life are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, at the First Baptist Church in Waxahachie with Dr. Karl Fickling officiating. Interment will follow at the Waxahachie City Cemetery.
A visitation with the family will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, at the Wayne Boze Funeral Home.
The family requests that memorials be made to the First Baptist Church in Waxahachie or the American Heart Association.
Arrangements are under the direction of Wayne Boze Funeral Home. www.waynebozefuneralhome.com